WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Thirty Airmen crossed the stage of Carney Auditorium in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 15 to accept their associate of applied science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force.
The ceremony’s guest speakers stressed the importance of education to both the graduates and Air Force.
“The Air Force is asking you to do today what our Airmen have not been asked to do in the past. And that is to use your education, training and experience to further our national defense strategy,” said Chief Master Sgt. Alexius Reid, CCAF vice commandant and commencement speaker. “You are our competitive advantage because of what you know, and because of what you do.”
Reid went on to relay what a member of the German military and former colleague had to say.
“He said, ‘Every day I get to hear from you all, I’m blown away by work your NCO corps is allowed to do,’” she told the audience. “He said, ‘If my air force would be allowed to utilize its enlisted members in the same way you all do, we’d be lethal.’ Our coalition partners appreciate the value of our education, training and experience.”
Chief Master Sgt. Jamie Newman, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center command chief, was the honored guest speaker and also talked of the advantage an educated NCO corps gives the U.S. military.
“I hear it repeated over and over and over again: We are the difference to our adversaries,” Newman said. “‘We’ being the enlisted force, and some part of that is the education that you get.”
Newman also underscored the importance of education to the individual Airman.
“It helps shape the way we think, act and speak,” he said. “It helps you become a better person; it starts to show you not only what you know, (but) how much you really don’t know.”
Reid said the graduates will see benefits both in the Air Force and civilian life.
“With an associate degree at a minimum, your earning potential outside the gate goes up between ($5,000) and $8,000,” she said. “In the uniform, I see many commanders and first sergeants and others who sit on boards. … Your education is often a discriminator when they’re selecting who’s the next best pick of things.”
Reid urged graduates to push forward and continue their education.
“Continue the climb – don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t give up,” she told them. “Take a big breath and celebrate the day. Take the pictures in front of the green screen. But please don’t stop the climb, be it the vocational path where you are refining your technical expertise or the academic path where you continue to climb that ladder. Please don’t stop.”
Col. Christopher Meeker, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, reinforced that message.
“First and foremost, congratulations – what a great day and special occasion. I know how much work goes into that,” he said. “But like the chief said, keep going, right? Celebrate today and then keep pressing forward. Make yourself better every day.”
The new degree inspired Staff Sgt. Tasha Mangloña, U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, to continue her education.
“It just motivated me and pushed me to keep going and not just stop in one place,” she said.
Below is the list of graduates from CCAF’s fall semester:
Aerospace physiology technology
Tech. Sgt. Bobby Allbritten
Air traffic operations and management
Master Sgt. Wendi DiBartolomeo
Aircraft safety systems technology
Staff Sgt. Steven Wineman
Aviation maintenance technology
Tech. Sgt. Justin Bunn
Staff Sgt. Daniel Miller
Tech. Sgt. Matthew Paine
Senior Airman Norman Smith
Tech. Sgt. Matthew Helma
Staff Sgt. Brandon Moore
Diagnostic imaging technology
Staff Sgt. Isabella O’Donley
Senior Airman Carissa Lovelace
Staff Sgt. Remar Smith
Human resource management
Staff Sgt. Hayley Carizey
Staff Sgt. Ayao Hukporti
Information systems technology
Staff Sgt. Anthony Biagi
Staff Sgt. Timothy Charleson-Libby
Staff Sgt. Vanion Dale
Airman 1st Class Maitland Dethrow
Staff Sgt. Adriel Martinez-Alvarez
Staff Sgt. Trevor Miller
Intelligence studies and technology
Senior Airman Dione Connor-Burrows
Senior Airman Amber Harrison
Staff Sgt. Dustin Max
Senior Airman Chance Roye
Senior Airman Katchee Vedrine
Practical nursing technology
Staff Sgt. Kristin Betsch
Senior Airman Ernesto Castellanos
Staff Sgt. Fatimata Diop
Senior Airman Amber Thompson
Public health technology
Staff Sgt. Tasha Mangloña